Vulnerable children – including those from abusive homes – have been placed in care settings outside East Ayrshire more than 30 times recently, figures show.

The kids, who can be as young as 12, need specialist help that isn’t available in the local area.

East Ayrshire Council spent more than £4.7 million in the last financial year to ensure the youngsters are safe and get support.

In March, children were attending more than 30 placements outside the local authority according to a paper presented to the council’s governance and scrutiny committee last week.

Committee chair Councillor Barry Douglas said: “It is quite harrowing when you think about the background of the young people.

“It is sad. We need to make sure we can give whatever it takes to provide the best possible care and support.

“We are talking about very vulnerable young people with complex needs.”

The external care placements include children’s homes, residential schools, and day education.

A total of 19 children were staying in  accommodation outside East Ayrshire in March of this year, the report revealed.